Every year just about this time, we Americans get all sentimental
and patriotic about the history of our great nation, including the
events leading up to our bold and brazen declaration:
" We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created
equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain
unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit
of happiness............" Damn. I get all fuzzy when I think about it.
And it's good to feel that way, I think. As someone who was born
and raised in America, it's only natural for me to have a deep
sense of pride when I think about my country and the sacrifices
of all my fellow countrymen and women over the centuries who
have selflessly put their lives on the line so that I may enjoy the
freedom that defines being a citizen of this great land.
There are, however, myths associated with some of the
more widely-believed events regarding this short period in
American history. Here are just a few:
America's independence was actually declared on July the 2nd,,
1776. Two days later, the document justifying the declaration
was adopted, thereby causing the confusion.
Unfortunately, the scene depicted in the above image of all of
the delegates signing the Declaration on one day in the same room
is inaccurate. Most of them, apparently, signed the document
on August the 2nd, and several did not sign until later. What I
will always believe, regardless of what I hear to the contrary,
is that whatever the date was that summer that they signed the
Declaration of Independence, it must have been m*th#rf^(k!n
hot in that room. I was there in April and there were times
where I could have dropped like a lead balloon.
The Liberty Bell was never rung in celebration of the
Declaration of Independence. If it was, apparently
nobody noticed. It did, however, receive its name in the
early 19th century as a symbol of the anti-slavery movement.
Poor Betsy Ross. Not only did she not design or sew that
first flag with the 13 stars in a circle, but she never lived in
the house designated to this day as the Betsy Ross House.
Word has it that after 150 years of being buried in a colonial
graveyard, she was exumed and re-buried on the grounds of
the house she never inhabited!
In April of 2007, a large group of my wife's relatives from Italy
came to visit. They started in Washington DC, came up through
Philadelphia, then New York, and culminated the trip in North
Jersey, where many of their cousins presently live. Living the
closest to Philadelphia, my wife and I were the designated hosts
for the day. I arranged to have an Italian-speaking tourguide
lead us around, because I only spoke kitchen Spanish. It was a
day none of us will ever forget. My wife's relatives are the most
loving, caring, and hospitable people I've ever met. When we
visited them in Italy two years before, they treated us like royalty.
The least we could do was try to treat them in the same manner.
The tourguide was a great liaison and made our job so much easier.
Most of these folks had never been to the states so you can imagine
how exciting this must have been for them. Especially Massimo with
the Handycam, who filmed just about every moment of the trip. At
one point, we laughed when we saw him following squirrels with his
camera, as if they didn't have them in Italy. As it turns out, there
aren't many. I'd actually like to get copies of his videos.
Most of the Italian women in front of Independence Hall.
They were not too concerned about the exact
date the Declaration was signed.
We can't see the crack from this picture, but legend has it that
the crack in the bell wasn't from it being rung vigorously, but from
it not being a well-made bell to begin with. Cousin Claudio who
took this photo was also not too upset about the origin of the crack.
When we congregated in front of the Betsy Ross House in the
courtyard for lunch, I don't think they would have enjoyed their
cheesesteaks from Jim's any less if they knew Betsy didn't actually
live there. And man, did they enjoy those cheesesteaks!
Thing is, they were all just so damn happy to be here in America
after hearing so many stories for so many years about their
American cousins and the different lives they led. They knew
the general story of our country and our fight for independence.
And they appreciated our ways of life, just as we all did when
we visited them in their homeland. It's no different really.
The way I see it, after 50 years of seeing our history one
way, a different light shed upon it won't change the pride
I feel for my country and the way I celebrate independence.
Happy 2nd of July!